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  #41  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 11:01 AM
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What the hell???

Myshtern, FasTracks was approved in 2004, long after 9/11. What the hell are you talking about?

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  #42  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 2:01 PM
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Originally Posted by myshtern View Post
You really want to compare laying railroad down as complex as the freedom tower? When did the light rail project begin? Was it before 9/11? Now which is going to end sooner?
Absolutely it's every bit as complex. How many property owners are involved with the light rail? And the Freedom Tower? You've got a couple parties there to worry about, and essentially a clean site. Engineering challenge - sure, freedom tower wins, hand down. But as a complete project, I'd say it's a very fair comparison.
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  #43  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 2:17 PM
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myshtern - when i talk about "too many non-experts contrbuting to a decision" i'm actually referring to the general public.

too many little old ladies...too many small-city-thinkers...too many 'change is bad' folks...they ahve the capacity to ruin our transit SYSTEM as we saw with kiling double-trackign up downing to create anurban loop (we have much too much of a line-by-line approach).

i'm all for a heavIER handed RTD - but that requries a blank check, and the feds require the EIS process...so, we're a bit stuck.

bcp
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  #44  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 3:20 PM
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Originally Posted by myshtern View Post
Government workers are terrified of accepting responsibility for decisions especially when they reap none of the benefits.

you are 100% correct in this assessment here. not to mention, they have a SERIOUS mental-mindblock in that they don't understand how to do tasks in parallel and efficiently manage a workforce. they most likely care about what they're doing, they're just very inept at actually doing it. more people from the private sector should be head-hunted and brought into the gov't system as high-level management. i assure you shit will get done then. today's model is too much wait for a decision before waiting for another one and hardly any streamlining/parallel processes going on. someone educate RTD's upper management on 21st century business practices...this isn't the days where you could sit back and wait forever for things to funnel through. you'll get absolutely KILLED (as the current 1.5 billion over cost already) in overhead if you're not the aggressor in the process.
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  #45  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 3:43 PM
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I am going back to an earlier part of the thread for a bit because it's eaten at me for a couple days...

You know I really resent that the "these people are good intentioned" was even allowed to get brought into the arguement. Of COURSE they are good intentioned. No one here imagines that all the workers are handle-bar-moustache-twisting-cape-wearing-mincing dark lords bent on destroying all of RTD's well meaning plans. However, I NEVER ever learned in school that good intentions=good design.

But now I have to be VERY careful if I want to vent about something because I might hurt the designers' feelings. I can't stand that 16th is going to be open to cars.. can't say that though because the decision came from good intentions. I don't like that the plan has become a smear across the CPV instead of a central, focal station. Can't say that either.. because those changes came from good intentions as well. Other things I'ver really not liked about this whole process..they are all invalid now because everything I don't like came from good intentions.

Some people on here have written and written and written RTD and the people who are responsible for the planning of this project. Some have spent many many hours working on their own ideas, presented them here, revised them and waited patiently for responses that never came. Now they are reduced to just saying we have to wait and see because my input has been ignored. When someone vents that the people appear to 'not give two shits' about the process I think that's perfectly valid in this case. So is nearly all of the venting about the plethora of changes that have come since the plan passed in the first place. Is it going to change anything? On here of course not.. nothing does really. All of our cheering on of Tabor II, Spire, 4S and everything else doesn't change their design or get them to rise faster either, yet here we all are.

Of course the designers and engineers and planners and other people who are working on Union Station and Fastracks in general ACTUALLY care, and of COURSE they are well meaning, probably well trained, good people who don't piss on the Union Station Master plan before leaving at night to go home and have a dinner of roasted babies.

However, the companies that are their bosses are still, in my opinion (which aparently I have to add now all the time too because it's not understood that EVERYTHING on here is opinion) suspect. I just don't think you can gloss over the fact that E/W was granted a near monopoly on development in that part of downtown and they should be watched MUCH more closely than it seems like they have. And if they are good businesspeople then they really ought to press the advantage as far as they can. As far as I've seen the city and RTD have not done enough asking if whats good for E/W is good for the city. (just again - my opinion - and I'm sorry if the CEO's of E/W are crying right now because I know.. they are basically all good people).
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  #46  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 3:43 PM
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its worse than you think...

RTD brings in transit / planning experts (Parsons Binkheroff and many others) to run the show....these experts and then caught between knowing how to do a great system and being marginalized by:

- line-by-line in-fighting
- limited budget
- having to listen to excessive community input
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  #47  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 3:46 PM
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bravo giovani....

instead of "watching" E/W....some natural, market-driven competition would have worked just find (and required zero additional gov't oversight)
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  #48  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 3:56 PM
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myshtern - when i talk about "too many non-experts contrbuting to a decision" i'm actually referring to the general public.

too many little old ladies...too many small-city-thinkers...too many 'change is bad' folks...they ahve the capacity to ruin our transit SYSTEM as we saw with kiling double-trackign up downing to create anurban loop (we have much too much of a line-by-line approach).

i'm all for a heavIER handed RTD - but that requries a blank check, and the feds require the EIS process...so, we're a bit stuck.

bcp
Was that really the fault of little old ladies and small city thinking? What I mean is .. RTD is dying for money right now to make Fastraks work. When you're looking for things to cut why not cut things that people are complaining loudly about? Even if everyone knows it's a vocal minority of boobs, there will be time to fix things like this in a couple decades. Sucks.. but one track is better than 0 and they HAVE to make some sacrifices along the lines somehow.
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  #49  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 4:16 PM
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Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
What the hell???

Myshtern, FasTracks was approved in 2004, long after 9/11. What the hell are you talking about?

Aaron (Glowrock)
I really don't know much about this sort of stuff, I really was asking In all seriousness though, you say it was approved in 2004 but I'm sure the design and plans were worked on for years prior to that, 2004 is only when voters decided to pay for it.

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Absolutely it's every bit as complex. How many property owners are involved with the light rail? And the Freedom Tower? You've got a couple parties there to worry about, and essentially a clean site. Engineering challenge - sure, freedom tower wins, hand down. But as a complete project, I'd say it's a very fair comparison.
As far as I'm concerned, the project is broken down into 2 parts. The design and construction of union station and laying down the actual rail.

The whole union station design seems to be fudged to me, simply because of the horrible zoning surrounding it and the construction shouldnt take more than a year.

While laying down the rail should have been done with an army of negotiators spread in each direction of the line for property followed by an army of laborers laying down rail. We can make this as complicated as we want and draw out the process for 30 years. If we want to get things done, things need to be broken down in the simple segments and attacked with an overwhelming force. Like I said though, I dont know what's necessary for the federal funding. I may seem rudimentary but let's not make anything overly complex in our heads, we're building a freaking railroad.
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  #50  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 4:58 PM
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Keep in mind, Myshtern, that it's just not light rail. It's also a huge (900' long) fully underground 22-bay bus terminal, 8 commuter rail tracks and platforms (partially depressed to allow for at-grade boarding), a big public parking garage, Mall Shuttle and Downtown Circulator lanes/stops, renovation of the historic station, a massive amount of utility relocation/reconstruction work, a hugh stormwater drainage project, acres of public spaces/plazas, etc., rebuilding every street in the vicinity, and over a million square feet of office/residential/hotel development. The fact that all of that is scheduled to be built in 4 years is quite an accomplishment. This is on par with DIA or TREX.

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  #51  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 5:20 PM
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Keep in mind, Myshtern, that it's just not light rail. It's also a huge (900' long) fully underground 22-bay bus terminal, 8 commuter rail tracks and platforms (partially depressed to allow for at-grade boarding), a big public parking garage, Mall Shuttle and Downtown Circulator lanes/stops, renovation of the historic station, a massive amount of utility relocation/reconstruction work, a hugh stormwater drainage project, acres of public spaces/plazas, etc., rebuilding every street in the vicinity, and over a million square feet of office/residential/hotel development. The fact that all of that is scheduled to be built in 4 years is quite an accomplishment. This is on par with DIA or TREX.

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I think a lot of people are overlooking this. With all those things you mention, this is a huge project and it would be for ANY company or city (with maybe the exception of Dubai).
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  #52  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 6:05 PM
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Originally Posted by DenverInfill View Post
Keep in mind, Myshtern, that it's just not light rail. It's also a huge (900' long) fully underground 22-bay bus terminal, 8 commuter rail tracks and platforms (partially depressed to allow for at-grade boarding), a big public parking garage, Mall Shuttle and Downtown Circulator lanes/stops, renovation of the historic station, a massive amount of utility relocation/reconstruction work, a hugh stormwater drainage project, acres of public spaces/plazas, etc., rebuilding every street in the vicinity, and over a million square feet of office/residential/hotel development. The fact that all of that is scheduled to be built in 4 years is quite an accomplishment. This is on par with DIA or TREX.

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Exactly...
I really like the Union Station Design they have come up with. Hey,... so the lines will be at-grade -- there isn't money to put them below grade (the commuter rail will be partially depressed for at-grade boarding, which is very nice). I don't have $200 million to donate to Union Station, do you?

Really, when you break this Union Station plan down, you get the Main Terminal (Historic Union Station) and thee terminals; Commuter Rail Terminal (CRT), Regional Bus Terminal (RBT) and the Light Rail Terminal (LRT).

The LRT and CRT are connected by the RBT via an enclosed, underground pedestrian passageway complete with moving walkways and skylights. In this underground Regional Bus Terminal, the 18th Street circulator bus also loops through with a stop at the Commuter Rail Terminal and also at the Light Rail Terminal.

Then there is the 16th Street Mall Shuttle which also has a stop at the CRT, then continues down 16th Street all the way to the Millennium Bridge. It then has it's final stop adjacent to the LRT platforms.

Furthermore, with this design, the Commuter Rail Facility will have room for 2-extra tracks for future capacity, the Regional Bus Terminal will have room for 22-bus bays (instead of 18) for added capacity and the Light Rail Terminal will have room to expand the LRT lines north as through lines as well as have room for a future through line for a Front Range High-Speed commuter rail line.
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  #53  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 8:15 PM
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4/30/2008 12:58:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article Undeveloped land near East Alameda Avenue and Chambers is shown April 28. The area near the Aurora Municipal Center and the former Aurora Mall has been slated for substantial redevelopment that will begin in 2009 or 2010 according to developers. (Heather A. Longway-Burke/The Aurora Sentinel) Developing the Metro Center
Aurora’s the third-most-populous city in Colorado. It spans across 150 square miles of land. It just lacks a downtown.

By Neela Eyunni
The Aurora Sentinel

AURORA | A dusty 63-acre plot of land near Sable Boulevard and East Alameda Avenue may carry Aurora's hopes for anything resembling a bustling, busy metropolitan atmosphere.

With a sprawling 150 square miles of land and a ranking of third most populous city in Colorado, city leaders and developers know that Aurora still lacks one important big-city ingredient: a downtown.

After the Aurora Municipal Center moved to its current site in 2002 and the renovation of the Town Center of Aurora in 2005 the stage was set for the oft-delayed development near Alameda and Sable.

The name chosen for the site even reflected the potential of the land it sat on - City Center.

Now, as the Metro Center development attempts reaps the fruit the City Center's location could come to bear, few details have emerged about the coming market.

Yet most understand that to become financially viable within the borders of Aurora, the location may need to offer something completely unique.

And planners say that despite a study suggesting Aurora's only viable economic driver was big box retail, light rail and other high-density development near planned stations will provide the boost needed to bump Aurora past the suburban hump and into a metropolitan city.

The plan

Plans for Metro Center have included four main districts: a main street, uptown living, shopping and cultural districts, according to Ala Hason, spokeswoman for Gensler, the architect firm hired to design Metro Center.

City Center planners have said the heart of the downtown area will be the main street, consisting of a mix of office space, retail and residential areas.

"The main street should be a people place with intensive development," said Bob Watkins, Aurora's director of planning.

In keeping with the high-density mentality, offices, retail shopping and residences will be dispersed around the development in multi-story buildings, often sharing similar spaces, according to Hason's plans. Residential areas will primarily take the form of typical three- to four-story apartments or lofts.

Watkins said singles and empty-nesters, who could take advantage of the surrounding retail, are the target audience for the high-end apartments.

City officials said parking for both retail and residential areas will be primarily underground to further allow for high-density development. The limited amount of surface parking, planners said, illustrate the center's shift away from being an auto-oriented, traditional suburban shopping location.

Instead, planners said they would rely heavily on light rail, which RTD projects to pass through Aurora by 2016, to transport people to and from the location.

The city is currently working with FasTracks to continue the light rail system along Interstate 225 to connect to the East Corridor with stops along the way, including one stop on the east side of Sable Boulevard, which would drop passengers at or near the Metro Center's main street. The project is currently in the environmental evaluation stage, which officials said should be complete in the next year.

"The most effective way to take advantage of mass transit is to make it easy for a lot of people to walk to the station," said Watkins. "That is why you would want to put higher density residential and employment near the station because those uses will generate ridership."

The competition

A study by Jeff Green Partners last year concluded Aurora's retail market was over-saturated, with an abundance of retail centers either within Aurora or just beyond its border.

Denver's new Downtown Area Plan, created last June, already provides Metro Center with a potential threat. The plan involves renovating downtown's shopping areas and adding approximately 1.5 million square feet of retail in the next 20 years.

The Denver plan is also focused around expansion by encompassing surrounding neighborhoods and creating more housing. Denver's Planning Services of Community and Planning and Development estimates 18,000 new housing units will be added to downtown by 2027.

Other retail and lifestyle centers, such as Belmar, located in Lakewood, offer Metro Center more immediate competition, forcing it to clearly distinguish itself from other commercial hubs. Style of development and target audience could make Belmar the closest competitor for its retail and housing dollar.

So City Center planners insisted Metro Center will offer visitors a unique experience in an effort to separate themselves from the competition.

"We want to have restaurants and stores you can't find anywhere else in the metro area," said Watkins, who also explained how the construction of multi-story buildings would give the area a visually distinctive skyline.

Metro Center planers also said the presence of the light rail will provide the location with an immediate advantage over its competition. No future light rail has been planned through the Bel Mar area.

With a 2.1-acre park and plaza, an event center and a museum, Bel Mar officials have said they've already created the public friendly environment that Aurora is trying to imitate.

Ongoing expansion in Belmar's commercial, office and residential sectors further indicate it is not stepping aside while the Metro Center reaps its clientele.

The money

City officials said the Metro Center will be funded partially by the private sector. However the developers, City Point Aurora LLC, have requested an incentive package that is currently under discussion.

"It is a difficult site to develop and is a mixed-used site, so we are willing to share some of the cost," said Dianne Truwe, director of the Development Services Department. "However, the plan needs to be exceptional and meet city goals and standards."

Plans for the center, officials said, must be compliant with city's comprehensive plan and transit-oriented development guidelines already set in place.

Similar projects, such as the Gardens on Havana, have been funded through a combination of tax incentives and city incentives.

The Gardens, located on the site of the former Buckingham Square Mall, is a similar outdoor shopping center with a massive budget. The redevelopment is expected to cost $110 million.

Last Year, the city, Arapahoe County and the Cherry Creek School District tentatively agreed to a proposal that would allow up to $12 million of excused property taxes to go toward the project. The city plans to contribute about $7 million of the total sum.

A similar method may be used to finance a deal between the city and Metro Center's developers.

The draw

City planners are hoping to capitalize on the already populated City Center location and its surrounding areas to create their clientele base.

"There are 10,000 employees and customers right there," said Hason, citing the presence of the Arapahoe CentrePoint Plaza and Town Center of Aurora mall.

However, the study by Jeff Green Partners, based in part on the demographics and income of the people in Aurora, concluded the site could not support a specialty or lifestyle area. Citing "soccer moms and dads" as the predominant Aurora lifestyle, the study suggested relocating a 180,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Superstore to the Metro Center location.

After refusing to follow the study's recommendations, Watkins said this is about creating its own market and RTD's plans to extend the light rail along I-225 allows the perfect opportunity to do so.

"The new front doors to Aurora will be the transit stations when FasTracks is completed," said Watkins.

Watkins gave the example of California suburb Mountain View when explaining his vision of how Aurora's transformation into a transit-oriented development would bring commuters from surrounding cities.

Redesigned around utilization of its light rail and railroad systems, Mountain View attracts people from neighboring big cities such as San Francisco and San Jose.

"The idea was to give people more transit options," said Martin Alkire, Mountain View's principal planner.

The action

Plans for Metro Center are still in the review process. City Point Aurora LLC submitted their site plan for Metro Center on Feb. 1.

After reviewing the applications, the Planning Commission found the site plan failed to create a dense downtown "core" due to a lack of multi-story buildings along the proposed development's main street and an excess of surface parking. Other problems included the area being non-pedestrian friendly with an inadequate amount of sidewalks and bike paths as well as blocks that were too long to walk. In keeping with the conceptualized vision for the center, city planners rejected the plans and said developers had until March 21, 2008 to resubmit a revised application.

"We are hoping to be reviewed by the city and have approval in the next 8-to-10 weeks," said Hason.

If the application is approved, the first phase of Metro Center's development will begin. According to Hason, the first phase features the construction of 15 buildings, including four-story office buildings with retail on the first levels and a 300-unit residential complex. Basic infrastructure, such as roads and utilities will also be built at this time.

"In the first phase there will be construction on three of the four corners of land," said Hason. "Then it will move inward."

When is it going to happen?

City Center planners said they would like to begin construction on the Metro Center in the next year or two.

"The ideal situation would be to have the development in place when the railway comes," said Watkins. "Whether we can pull that off or not is hard to say at this point."
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  #54  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 10:08 PM
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The more I think of these 200' height restrictions around the light rail, the more I am outraged. Who was arguing for such height restrictions?
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  #55  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 10:13 PM
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The more I think of these 200' height restrictions around the light rail, the more I am outraged. Who was arguing for such height restrictions and why?
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  #56  
Old Posted May 2, 2008, 11:27 PM
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It was a relatively broad concensus actually. Generally, people wanted the highest density/tallest skyscrapers to remain in the Central Business District (where there are still dozens and dozens of underdeveloped/vacant parcels) and for the Central Platte Valley to develop as a mid-rise mixed-use district that's more compatible with the lower-scale of LoDo. Also, there was strong support for the notion that the skyline should maintain a "pyramid" shape, with the tallest towers in the center and a gradual decrease in height as you move out toward the edges. This was particularly important in the Central Platte Valley, as immediately on the other side of the Platte River are historic and lower-scale buildings.
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  #57  
Old Posted May 3, 2008, 12:25 AM
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You know buildings are still "historic" if they do something that has never been done before.. I wonder if any of the neighborhood associations realize this.
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  #58  
Old Posted May 3, 2008, 7:39 PM
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Originally Posted by DenverInfill View Post
It was a relatively broad concensus actually. Generally, people wanted the highest density/tallest skyscrapers to remain in the Central Business District (where there are still dozens and dozens of underdeveloped/vacant parcels) and for the Central Platte Valley to develop as a mid-rise mixed-use district that's more compatible with the lower-scale of LoDo. Also, there was strong support for the notion that the skyline should maintain a "pyramid" shape, with the tallest towers in the center and a gradual decrease in height as you move out toward the edges. This was particularly important in the Central Platte Valley, as immediately on the other side of the Platte River are historic and lower-scale buildings.
All these mid-rises actually add good density at a sustainable rate. Furthermore, they use up vacant space much more rapidly without over-building. Finally, as vacant lots become more scarce, taller buildings will become the norm, not the rare exception.
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  #59  
Old Posted May 3, 2008, 11:28 PM
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Google Maps has added an awesome feature...

go to http://maps.google.com

click on "get directions"

enter your "start address" and "end address"

click on "get directions"

click on "take public transit" (just right of the "drive there" link)

it will spit out about 3 public transit "trip" options including both bus and light rail...it also shows travel time based on the next bus and light rail stop times...by selecting "options" you are able to enter a custom date and time using the "depart at" or "arrive by" buttons...GO GOOGLE!!
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  #60  
Old Posted May 4, 2008, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by bukden View Post
Google Maps has added an awesome feature...

go to http://maps.google.com

click on "get directions"

enter your "start address" and "end address"

click on "get directions"

click on "take public transit" (just right of the "drive there" link)

it will spit out about 3 public transit "trip" options including both bus and light rail...it also shows travel time based on the next bus and light rail stop times...by selecting "options" you are able to enter a custom date and time using the "depart at" or "arrive by" buttons...GO GOOGLE!!
Hmm...neat idea, but it needs some work. Pretty sure RTD is not going to let me get out on the freeway. Nor do I want to swim across the creek or walk through peoples backyards. But still, a nice idea!

edit: it's kind of a sadly accurate tool for checking out how much faster driving is 99.9% of the time here in denver.
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